Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Anthony P. Chiarlitti, Ed.D.

Second Supervisor

Arleen Hogan, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to examine retrospectively the lived educational experiences of 10 former student clinicians with non-apparent disabilities as they navigated their graduate clinical education programs in communication sciences and disorders. The goal of this study was to gain insight into the culture of inclusion using a qualitative research design. As a first study on this topic in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders, a descriptive phenomenological approach was utilized to ascertain and explore the participants’ individual experiences. Semi-structured interviews were employed as the primary method to collect, code, and analyze the data. A mosaic of three theories guided this study including marginality and mattering (Schlossberg et al., 1989), self-determination (Ryan & Deci, 2000), and critical disability (Hoskings, 2008) theories. Findings included the need for faculty training in nonapparent disabilities and the accommodations process, and consciousness-raising on implicit ableism. Most participants reported being uninformed of their eligibility for formal accommodations and provided descriptions of the internalized ableism that influenced their choice making.

This study includes recommendations for academic programs in institutes of higher education (IHE) to better align the support services provided. These recommendations can inform the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the governing body of speech-language pathologists, to further examine inclusive disability affirmative practices in graduate clinical education and clinical practice.

Recommendations are also provided for future student clinicians with non-apparent disabilities to facilitate their navigation of graduate clinical education programs in communications sciences and disorders to foster more equitable and inclusive opportunities.

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